Ukraine star reveals Russia clash with shunned former hero
Ukraine football star Andriy Yarmolenko says he and former national team hero Anatoliy Tymoshchuk told each other to “f**k off” after clashing over the conflict with Russia.
Ukraine’s all-time record international appearance maker Tymoshchuk has been disowned by many in his homeland for continuing to work as a coach at Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg.
The 43-year-old has also been condemned for not speaking out publicly against Moscow’s military campaign, leading to him being stripped of a series of honors in Ukraine.
Current Ukraine striker Yarmolenko, who plays his club football with West Ham in the English Premier League, says he contacted his former teammate to question his stance, but that the conversation ended with an ugly exchange.
“To begin with, when we played together, Tolya was an example of professionalism for me. I always looked up to him,” said Yarmolenko, 32, speaking to Russian football blogger Evgeny Savin.
Adding that he had “watched who spoke up and who didn’t say anything at all” at the outbreak of the conflict with Russia, Yarmolenko said: “I wrote to [Tymoshchuk]: ‘How do you sleep at night?’ He replied: ‘I can’t sleep, just like you.’ I didn’t write to him anymore, but he called me.
“I asked him: ‘Why are you silent? You were an example for me. I looked up to you, but now you don’t exist in my life.’
“He told me to f**k off, and I told him the same. That’s where the conversation ended.”
Tymoshchuk won a record 144 international caps during a playing career which saw Champions League success with Bayern Munich.
The defensive midfield man also enjoyed UEFA Cup glory while at Zenit, playing in two spells at the Russian giants and winning the Russian Premier League on two occasions.
Tymoshchuk returned to Zenit as a coaching assistant in 2017 and has been part of the club’s three successive Russian top-tier titles.
However, Tymoshchuk has been accused by the Ukrainian Association Football of “working for the club of the aggressor,” with the organization stripping the former Shakhtar Donetsk star of any titles and accolades he earned in his homeland, as well as rescinding his coaching license.
Yarmolenko claimed that Tymoshchuk could be “afraid” to speak out due to potential consequences in Russia.
“What’s with him? He’s probably afraid. He doesn't know what will happen to him if he says something. He has a wife, children – they are Russian. I understand all this very well. But you have friends in Ukraine whose relatives are dying,” said the West Ham forward.
“You can easily take your family and live anywhere in the world. State your position. I think he made enough money to live anywhere in the world. I don't understand how he can continue to live with this.
“Your parents are on the other side, and you are on the side which they shoot from and kill. I don’t know how I would live with this.”
The St. Petersburg-born Yarmolenko previously targeted former Russia captain Artem Dzyuba with a public callout, branding Russian players “s**theads” for their supposed silence.
Dzyuba responded by stating he was “proud to be Russian.”
“The war will end, but human relations will remain. And it will be impossible to rewind. Remember this,” Dzyuba said.
“P.S. And to some colleagues who sit on their backsides in mansions in England and say nasty things: this cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and kindness to all!”
Tymoshchuk, meanwhile, has been backed by sections of the Zenit St. Petersburg fanbase, who have been seen holding a banner reading “Tolya, we are with you” at one recent match.